The Birth of Reggie
I’d been waxed, threaded, blow dried, shellacked, massaged, aligned my chakras & packed my hypnobirthing bag- I was “baby ready” Then BANG at 39weeks plus 1 I was struck down with sickness & diarrhoea. This was not part of the ‘plan’. It’s started I had said, my first of many rushes to the loo thinking my body was “flushing itself out” ready for baby’s imminent and timely arrival. This was not the case, turns out on top of the D&V I had developed thrombocytopaenia, the platelets in my blood count were extremely low & I was severely dehydrated.
I had agreed to a stretch & sweep on my due date, thinking I wouldn’t need it, my first baby came on her due date so I was expecting this baby to be the same (or even sooner- as everyone tells you this about your second baby!) This time at 40 weeks, I felt zapped of all energy. Recovered from the D&V, although still dehydrated, I had a discussion about the risks of my reduced platelets to my intended water birth plans. The concerns were I would have heavy blood loss after delivery & could end up having to have a transfusion.
My first birth had been a completely natural delivery in water & I was clinging on to having the same experience this time round. I decided I would ‘let’ them break my waters to see if I could get baby moving in the most natural way, & hoped that my platelets would stick around enough to mean no post birth interventions.
After a long day in hospital having blood tests, meetings, reviews & much deliberation, we have a 2 year old daughter at home that hadn’t at that point spent one night apart from the both of us, we stayed in hospital overnight together, on the ‘promise’ that I would be in pole position for my waters breaking first thing in the morning. I had a bit of a ‘wobble’ about my daughter being away from us & then ‘no baby’ for her to see in the morning but much reassurance from my trusty babysitting legendary sisters at home got me through.
We both got a decent-ish nights sleep, laughed to repeats of Mickey Flannigan & I ‘had de-hospitalised’ the room, sticking up pictures of our daughter, & family, overpowering the bedding & my own pillow with my lavender oils. Next morning, my waters were broken at around 10:30. We had started our playlist & chatted away to the staff throughout, laughing about the expectant tsunami style gush I had had first time round- this was more of a flowing steady stream- less dramatic than I had hoped for- the staff had put their aprons on on my recommendation! I was 3cms- which was good to know & gave me encouragement that things would start soon, & we’d be meeting our baby, hopefully, within the next few hours. I felt relived & excited!
Knowing that we were hypnobirthing the staff then left us to it, assuring me that the pool was currently ‘available’ & just to give them the nod when I knew it was time to start the bath running. For a while not a lot happened with baby- I decided to do my make up- I hadn’t looked like myself for a week now & just wanted to feel ‘normal’. I tidied my brows, put a gigantic floppy bow in my hair – which I never do- but it made me feel glamorous?! & we went for a walk. I started to squat every few meters convinced that would start to bring things along.
Surges started, very gentle, I let Oli know, we stood together, sometimes my hands up on his shoulders, sometimes on my hips whilst I swayed to & fro- we chatted between & after a loop of the hospital gardens (patch of grass & some shrubs) I decided we should get back upto the ward. I didn’t want anyone else to pip me to the post for the pool, & my surges were coming more often- lasting around a minute, every 2-3 minutes. Oli was helpfully clocking all of this on an app. Oli encouraged me to lunge up the 3 flights of stairs back to the ward & by the time we were back in our room, he got them to start the pool. I was offered a wheelchair down to the pool room, but declined, instead deciding to walk- although from what I remember we had our playlist still going & I was saying how the rhythm was great for my movements, so I think I danced to delivery suite?!
In the room, I became overcome with emotion- it was the same room I had delivered Esmé in just two years previous & I know it sounds corny but was just flooded with happy & loving memories! I stripped off & got straight in the pool. The room (at St James’s Leeds) was dimly lit with twinkly lights on the ceiling. There’s a huge photo mural on one whole wall of a field of sunflowers- it feels ‘right’ for hypnobirthing. My surges continued to come in the pool & we breathed through each one together, I kept focused by carefully studying Oli’s mouth as he mimicked my breathing, encouraging me to breathe deeply & to blow out ‘upwards’. I remember him telling me I was doing really well, but then asking him (kindly) not to speak & just to breathe with me when I squeezed his arms. I did some visualisation, imagining blowing a long trail of bubbles softly & upwards.
The one midwife in the room, LJ, was intermittently checking my temperature & at my request agreed to examine me in the water. I was keen to know how dilated I was, as this all felt very controlled & I was just very surprised by how much quicker I had got to this stage than last time. I was 10cms. I think that was the last piece of reassurance that I needed that I could do this & it was time to meet baby. I decided to get on all fours from my crossed legged yoga position & immediately felt the urge to push. I felt glamorous, strong, & empowered. I breathed down & put through my nose, arms over the edge of the bath & on Oli’s shoulders, keeping close eye contact with him, I felt the head was out. I was silent, controlled, & knew I’d be able to birth the rest of my baby in the next surge.
The sensation came, I breathed downwards, a huge breath out- I felt like I really embraced my primal woman for this one & the flurry of baby passed through & out into pool. Baby Reggie was curled up on his side in the bottom of the pool, I reached down & lifted him on to my chest. I was flooded with emotion, elation, the best I had felt in ages! My baby was here, I was OK, he was OK, I had done it again!
After around 10 minutes, I asked to get out of the pool, I knew they needed to check Reggie’s platelets to see if he had been affected by my condition & I wanted to get on with delivering the placenta. In contrast to my birth plan & first birth I had agreed that morning, I would have the injection to trigger this, I had fainted after some blood loss after my first birth & didn’t want the chances of losing blood due to the reduced platelets to be increased. The placenta came very quickly after the injection, I used a short downwards breath & it was out soon after.
Reggie was a great & healthy weight, 10lb 6oz! I didn’t tear, graze, have gas & air, paracetamol or need stitches (most common questions I’ve been asked in the last week!) Techniques learnt from hypnobirthing & yoga practice have taught me to completely trust in my body, I repeated in my head throughout, “I’ve got this” “I can do this” “I’m going to meet my baby” This, with my fantastic breathing coach-shout out “Oli Lampkin(!)” got me to birth Reggie calmly, naturally & easily.
We have only had family visitors in the last week, we have enjoyed hibernating, settling in as a family of four, & everyone that has met him comments how chilled out Reggie is & we all are together. I always reply “he’s chilled out…for now”, abit tongue in cheek, & knowing that of course this could all change, but also do feel that we have all benefitted from a relaxed & calm labour after what was an exhausting & tiring few days leading up to Reggie’s arrival.
Just a few thank yous at the end of my long story: to Abby Watson, who taught Hypnobirthing techniques to Oli & I two years ago. Abby has become a friend since we had Esmé & has continued to offer her ongoing support, reassurance & kind words throughout this pregnancy, from start to finish-you are so genuine & passionate about birth & how amazing it can be for every woman- you are a credit to hypnobirthing.
My pregnancy yoga instructor Lara- you are amazing at what you do & how you do it, I have loved your energy, positivity & sense of humour about birth. I did actually have a little chuckle to myself during my breathing remembering to keep my facial lips loose- thank you & ‘namaste’. Forever grateful to all my friends & family, in particularly my sisters & grandparents for looking after Esmé & me so much these last couple of weeks. It has helped no end with how I have felt knowing that Esmé is happy & being well looked after, thank you. Lastly, thank you to Oli for once again supporting me through birth & helping to bring our second gorgeous baby into the world- I’ll have to start hiring you out! So much love sent to you all from my loved up baby bubble, I’m still on cloud 9!
Sasha and Oli, Leeds